Incommensurability as vagueness: a burden-shifting argument

Theoria 83 (4):341-363 (2017)
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Two options are ‘incommensurate’ when neither is better than the other, but they are not equally good. Typically, we will say that one option is better in some ways, and the other in others, but neither is better ‘all things considered’. It is tempting to think that incommensurability is vagueness—that it is (perhaps) indeterminate which is better—but this ‘vagueness view’ of incommensurability has not proven popular. I set out the vagueness view and its implications in more detail, and argue that it can explain most of the puzzling features of incommensurability. This argument proceeds without appeal to John Broome’s ‘collapsing principle’.

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Luke Elson
University of Reading


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